Health workers killed in Guinea for distributing information about Ebola

Virus continues to spread across West Africa

Guinea government officials announced Thursday that they have found the bodies of eight people—five volunteers and three journalists—who were apparently attacked and killed while trying to educate villagers about the Ebola outbreak.

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"The eight bodies were found in the village latrine. Three of them had their throats slit," Guinea official Damantang Albert Camara told Reuters. As of Sept. 14, at least 5,347 people had been infected with the deadly virus and 2,630 people had died.

Guinea's Prime Minister Mohamed Saïd Fofana said in a televised message earlier this week that the bodies of seven of nine people who had gone missing in the village of Wome had been found. Apparently an eighth body was found and another may still be missing, according to Reuters.

Officials say the bodies showed signs of being attacked with clubs and machetes. Camara said the victims were "killed in cold blood."

The team included two medical officers, local administrators, a preacher, and three journalists, according to Fofana. They were attacked by a hostile stone-throwing crowd Tuesday as they tried to educate Wome villagers about the Ebola outbreak, officials say. A journalist who escaped the attack said that she heard people in the village hunting for members of the education team.

Six people have been arrested in connection with the murders, according to Fofana.

The assault is one of several similar attacks on medical workers in villages and towns in West Africa. Last month, riots broke out after a team sprayed down a marketplace and rumors spread that it was a conspiracy to infect the population.

In addition to fears and misunderstandings about Ebola that have turned deadly for aid workers, medical personnel face significant danger from the virus itself. More than 120 African health workers have been infected with Ebola.

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On Thursday, the first international staffer for Doctors Without Borders (DWB) contracted the virus. It took 42 hours to evacuate the Frenchwoman back to her home country because they had to wait for an aircraft from the United States. Brice de le Vingne, DWB's operations manager, has called on the European Union to station an evacuation aircraft in Monrovia, Liberia (Samb/Felix, Reuters, 9/18; Dixon, Los Angeles Times, 9/18; Raab, Los Angeles Times, 9/17; BBC News, 9/19).


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